Friday, November 11, 2022

Booked Out Sushi Counter

We did manage to pull a few serious Japanese meals before the late November "homecoming" trip, with one of them being dinner at Sushi Fujimoto by Chef Kenichi Fujimoto which opened earlier this year. Given the place is almost impossible to book for commoners like us, it's hard to say no when our friend P booked out the entire counter and asked us to join as the latest installation of our "Mo Duck Shue" dinner series.

Heard plenty about the chef and the restaurant, which made us more eager to try. We were the first to arrive just as Chef Fujimoto was making preparations of the dinner service. I like the setting, cozy with one long wooden counter table that could seat 8 rather comfortably. And being the first also meant we got to choose the seats closest to the chef's work area to observe the actions up close.

We all enjoyed the rather "theatrical" preparation of shari before our dinner began, with Fujimoto-san carefully mixed hot rice just cooked in a specialist casserole into a wide and shallow wooden "tub" with vinegar, and immediately, the room was filled with that nice aroma from that of the hinoki wood container and the rice vinegar. And then we began with a few otsumami dishes. The Kuroawabi (black abalone) from Chiba Prefecture was left in warm sake-infused broth before the few pieces were pulled out and carved, with each of us getting a couple slices. We were told to eat one with just a small dab of wasabi and the other with the liver sauce served on the side. Both were good in their own ways - the abalone was super tender and flavorful with the hint of sake well infused so it was perfect as is, but then I thought the liver sauce was probably the best I have tried with nice intense taste and smooth texture, working well with the abalone piece and also the dab of rice mixed in as the second course. 

Steaming was perhaps not the most common way of preparing Taichiuo (hairtail) but I did enjoy the delicate texture. The seasonal ankimo was another outstanding dish - Fujimoto-san pulled out the roll of monkfish liver and carefully carved into thick pieces, and on the side was a piece of crispy rice (which reminded me of Wo Ba in Northern Chinese cuisine). We were told to put two pieces together and ate it like an open sandwich. I love the ankimo soft and rich with a citrus hint balancing out the fattiness. One more cooked dish was served, this time the toro-kama, collar taken from the piece of bluefin tuna, with great melt-in-your-mouth texture and good smoky flavor from the charcoal grilling.

As we were finishing up the appetizer courses, Fujimoto-san continued the preparation for the sushi dishes in the equally "theatrical" manner as the shari preparation, with spotlight, special background music played by shamisen and all at the beginning. Hard to point out my favorite ones as many of them outstanding. The buri (young yellowtail) was surely the best I had this year if not ever with the fattiest texture, and on the other hand, the kuromutsu (bluefish) got a firmer texture but equally rich taste with the fish in prime season during colder months. The Kohada (gizzard shad) came in slightly larger size than usual and a kick more in acidity from the marinate. Then it's the trio of tuna - the akami was briefly marinated before served in the most perfect shape with great flavor. Both the chu-toro and otoro were great, but this evening I like the otoro better with just the right texture and fatty taste.

The sumi-ika was served two ways, first the "body" served raw as sushi, and the tentacles served flash grilled with torch. The sushi piece was beautifully scored and softened the texture too - all it took was a simple brush of salt water to bring out the hint of umami sweetness. Aji (horse mackerel) and Shiro-ebi (white shrimps) were flawless, worked perfectly well with the shari. The shirako (cod milt) was served cooked, charred on the grilled and served hot with a brush of soy marinate and yuzu zest. It was creamy and delicious. Moving on to a couple sushi served gunkan style, we got Bafun Uni (sea urchins) and then Ikura (salmon roes). Unagi (freshwater eel), from local market as Fujimoto-san told us, was done shiroyaki style without the sauce, and served as a simple maki with crispy nori wrapped around. Love the smoky flavor and firm texture. The kanpyo maki (dried gourd roll) and two pieces of egg castella cake (one being sweeter than the other, both in wobbly texture reminding me of Japanese egg pudding) wrapped up the "regular" dinner courses. 

We did go for a few encore items after, not because we weren't well fed but because the meal was so good that we didn't want it to end. That included kuromutsu done nigiri style, more ikura, this time served in a small bowl with small dab of shari underneath, and then their signature toro-taku maki, with overflowing amount of finely-chopped fatty tuna that we had difficulty holding with one hand. 

We continued with the tradition "Mo Duck Shue" dinner with fine bottles, this time 3 bottles of sake (one being a magnum) that were brought in plus a champagne from their menu. The Bruno Paillard Extra Brut was classic, with crisp acidity and a hint of brioche taste in the backbone. The Juyondai in magnum bottle got the mistakable banana aroma, and almost syrupy in taste. I felt almost criminal to stay we had more than our fair share of Daishichi Myoka Rangyoku and Zankyo Super 7 in recent months but we did, and I ain't complaining for sure especially both worked perfectly well with sushi. 

Somehow I had the impression that the place was uptight but we didn't get any of that... the meal and everything that evening was so good that it was ridiculous. 

When? October 10 2022
Where? Sushi Fujimoto, 6/F, 48 Cochrane St, Central
Menu Highlights? Pretty much everything, to be honest
Champagne Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Extra Brut NV
Juyondai 'Honmaru' Hiden Tamakaeshi Tokubetsu Honjozo - Takagi Shuzo, Yamagata Prefecture
十四代本丸秘伝玉返し特別本釀造 - 山形県 高木酒造
Daishichi Myoka Rangyoku - Daishichi Sake Brewery, Fukoshima Prefecture (2022)
大七妙花闌曲生酛純米大吟釀雫原酒 - 福島県大七酒造
Zankyo Super 7 Junmai Daiginjo - Niizawa Jozoten, Miyagi Prefecture (2021)
残響 Super 7 超特選 純米大吟醸 - 宮城県新澤醸造店
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